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The May issue of National Geographic Traveler (by far my favorite magazine) contains what I found to be an incredibly inspiring article by frequent traveler Edward Readicker-Henderson. The article, entitled “Cheating Death,” relays Readicker-Henderson’s story of how traveling has saved his life despite various illnesses, teaching him how to live life to the fullest and see the world for what it is. I found his reasons for traveling fairly profound, causing me to reflect on why I myself contain such a burning desire to constantly expand my horizons and travel the world.
I’ve always been an observer, content with remaining in the background rather than thrusting myself into the spotlight. I watch. I listen. If I have my reporter’s notebook, sometimes I’ll even take notes. Traveling puts me in my element, allowing me to observe a plethora of new things. I love surrounding myself with unfamiliar faces in a new place. I’m always eager to learn the customs and cultures of a new land. I never run out of things to observe. There’s local food to sample, hidden places to uncover and countless people to tell me their stories. By the end of each trip, my travel journal is always far from empty.
To me, traveling is more than just lounging on a beach or sampling the menu at a given city’s premiere five-star restaurant. It offers a chance to escape the routine of everyday life and indulge in the lifestyle of a brand new place. It’s an opportunity to step into someone else’s lifestyle and sample the world the way they live it, be it hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Traveling serves as an excellent escape. Being in a new place allows me to temporarily evade my worries and focus on soaking up the culture of whatever new place I’m in. It’s a temporary respite from reality that one simply cannot get from sitting on a couch and watching TV (no matter how hard we may try). I can be who I want to be, do what I want to do (as long as it’s safe and culturally acceptable) and spend my days enjoying the pure bliss of experiencing a new place.
However, I know that all trips must come to an end. This, perhaps, is one of the things I love the most about traveling. Yes, it is strange that such a travel junkie would be enthusiastic about returning to the reality of coming home. But it is often the time I spend away that reminds me how lucky I am to have such an incredible home to return to. I’ve driven by the roadside shacks people are forced to live in. I’ve talked to locals who have to take mundane jobs catering to tourists’ needs in order to support their families. For me, catching a glimpse of how other parts of the world live always serves as a reminder as to how fortunate I am.
Overall, I love traveling because it has taught me that as incredible as it is to explore the world, there’s nothing better than being able to return to my safe, loving home.